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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-01-06

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Transport leaders thank customers

CUSTOMERS are being thanked by transport leaders who say it's so far, so good with thousands of passengers making cross river journeys this week as the Wirral Loop Line Track Renewal works get underway. On the 1st day back for many commuters, saw the start of alternative transport arrangements put in place for the works. Monitoring reports from transport operators for the 1st 3 days show that the majority of services are running as expected with cross river journey times at predicted levels.

Merseyrail's express rail replacement service has been developed to support rail passenger journeys. This week has provided an opportunity to act on valuable feedback from customers with some additional, positive fine tuning of the service ahead of Monday when more people are expected to return to work following the holiday period.

Cross river bus and ferry services are also being monitored closely to ensure they continue to provide a high quality service and that capacity is available for existing and new passengers.

Transport providers will continue to work closely together throughout the programme to monitor and manage the transport network, ensuring that the Liverpool City Region is kept moving.

Said Frank Rogers, Merseytravel's Interim Chief Executive:- "It's a big thank you to the travelling public as early indications, based on monitoring figures, show that people have taken into account the travel advice provided and have planned ahead and revised their journeys where necessary. We know its early days and not everyone has returned to work yet, but our key message is if people continue to use public transport we are confident we can accommodate those returning next week and keep people moving for the duration of the works. We know there will be some challenging days, caused by a variety of circumstances, including poor weather, but we will continue to monitor services and do everything we can to keep people moving."

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Merseyrail's managing director, added:- "The 1st week has got off to a good start with rail replacement buses working well, and journey times in line with the schedules we have published. The coming week will be busier, so we encourage people to plan their journey in advance, and allow extra time for travel. We welcome the comments we have received from passengers after the 1st week, and these have provided useful pointers for fine tuning the arrangements."

Martin Bell Network Rail Project Manager said:- "Since Tuesday, we have been installing the lighting, communications and ventilation systems required to work in the tunnels safely. After the 1st week work is progressing well and is on schedule. Everyone who travels in the City Region, either on the train, bus, ferry or in a car, is encouraged to plan their journey."

Key advice:-

► Don't take the car, use public transport: The Mersey Tunnels and surrounding routes can accommodate additional buses, but they will not be able to cope with an increase in cars, especially at peak times. Congestion will increase journey times for everyone. If you have to use the car, try and travel outside peak times.

► Avoid travelling at peak times where possible: If you work, speak to your employer about whether there is any flexibility in working times or times you could avoid travelling altogether. If you can, you may want to leave work later and make the most of restaurants, shops and other leisure activities on whatever side of the river you're travelling home from.

► Leave more time for your journey: Whether you travel cross river, within the rail network in Wirral, or usually make use of the underground rail 'loop' to get around the City Centre, you will need more time for your journey to take account of the changes.

► Consider your options: Different ways of travelling may suit your needs depending on where you need to go and at what time.

Details of the transport options are available online.

► Rail replacement buses: High quality 'express' buses ready to 'fill and go' at peak times will run directly from Birkenhead Central and Birkenhead North to Moorfields and St George's Hall, with return buses at least every 15 minutes. There will be additional services to ensure people can still catch early morning mainline trains. People who would normally use loop services (trains between James St, Moorfields, Lime St and Central) can use their rail tickets on the 10A bus to travel around the 'loop'.

► Buses: There are 14 existing cross river bus services that run between Wirral / Chester and Liverpool. Services will be strengthened to accommodate existing and new customers.

► Mersey Ferries: Offers a frequent cross river commuter service between Seacombe and Pier Head in peak times, with three services an hour, a journey time of 10mins each way and free parking for 370 cars at Seacombe. Cross river Merseyrail tickets / passes will be able to be used throughout the disruption. Ferries will be an option for cyclists as cycles can't be carried on rail replacement buses. A limited bike bus service will be available.

► Special arrangements will be in place for people with disabilities with staff on hand to help.

Phases of the Wirral Loop Line Track Renewal

► Phase 1 - Tuesday, 3 January 2017 to Sunday, 12 February 2017

For 6 weeks all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool Stations

► Phase 2 - Monday, 13 February 2017 to Monday, 29 May 2017

For 15 weeks, all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at James Street station from Monday to Friday. At weekends, all services will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central Stations. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool stations.

► Phase 3 - Tuesday, 30 May 2017 to Sunday, 18 June 2017

For 20 days, all Wirral line trains will start and terminate at Birkenhead North and Birkenhead Central. Rail replacement buses will run between Wirral and Liverpool stations.

Did you know?

Network Rail will be replacing the most challenging sections of concrete based track in the 'loop' originally laid in the 1970's, while making the most of the opportunity to carry out other work, including replacing conventional track under the riverbed.

Network Rail, Merseyrail and Merseytravel, have been working over many months, with local authorities, operators and other partners, to come up with a plan that balances the need to get essential and complex work done with the need to keep people moving and Merseyside 'open for business.'

The work, which would also support a new Merseyrail fleet on the network from the early 2020's, is part of a 340m investment in the Liverpool City Region (LCR)'s rail network over the next 3 years. The investment is a combination of funding from Network Rail and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, via the Government's Growth Deal fund and Merseytravel. For more information online.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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